Equador and Galapagos islands trip:
I had never thought about travelling to the Galapagos...
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Transport - Bus, on foot, in country flight, cruise boat.
Accommodation - Hotels (4nts), twin berth cabin with private facilities (7nts).
Meals - 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
Please note that the itinerary follows two routes. This is due to restrictions put in place by the Galapagos National Park to help protect the islands. The route taken depends on the date and each is marked with an (A) or a (B).
Fly to Quito
After your flight, you transfer to your first night’s accommodation and check in. You will be met and assisted by a local representative
Please bear in mind that Quito is at 2800m above sea level therefore you may feel slightly breathless when you arrive. You may suffer from mild altitude sickness with symptoms such as a headache and mild nausea. This will pass as you acclimatise. During this period it is advisable to drink plenty of fluids and not to eat too much.
Hotel – 2 nights
At leisure today, for optional excursions and free time. You can visit the equator and explore the city.
There is a pre-departure meeting today at 6pm in your hotel where you will meet with others travelling on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. (B)
Galápagos: Las Bachas
This morning you transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos. In the departure lounge of the domestic airport you will be met and assisted you with your group check-in and payment of the $10 transit card fee. On arrival you will be asked to pay the Galapagos National Park fee ($100 per person). You are then met in the arrival hall and then transer to the boat The M.Y. Pelicano anchored a short distance away in Baltra's small port. Once on board you are assigned your cabin before you set sail. Your stop this afternoon is the beautiful beach of Las Bachas on Santa Cruz Island. This beach is a major egg laying site for sea turtles. Marine iguanas can be found ashore whilst pink flamingos are commonly seen in the lagoon. Remnants of a floating pier can still be sighted and is a testimony to U.S. presence in the Galapagos during World War II. Boat – Twin Cabins – 7 nights (BLD)
An overnight sail brings you to the north eastern outpost of Genovesa. The island is abundantly beautiful with varied landscapes and wonderful wildlife. The dolphins who love to swim around the islands add their own touch of marine magic to a visit here. There is prolific bird life to see and you will discover all three types of booby here, including the rare red-footed booby, as well as frigate birds and lots of smaller tropical species. Follow a steep path, called Prince Phillip's Steps, to reach seabird rookeries where you will find many birds nesting overhead in the cliffs. Whilst on the rocky plain you will visit the only place in the world where you can see storm petrels flying during the daytime - this island is a twitchers paradise! Darwin Bay also offers large colonies of breeding seabirds including frigates. Also the underwater world at Genoveas is one of the most exciting in the islands, grab your snorkelling gear and go searching for manta rays, sharks, turtles, moray eels and of course many brightly coloured fish.
On Bahia Sullivan on Santiago's eastern coast you will visit the site of a 100-year old lava flow, this magnificent, natural black carpet is covered in intricate markings and patterns. As you walk you will see iguanas resting and Sally Lightfoot Crabs scuttling by. You learn from your guide about the geological history of these islands whilst experiencing it's results for yourself in this living classroom. Cross the lava field to reach white sand beaches.
Returning to your boat you sail on to reach Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) for an afternoon visit. You have a dry landing here and walk to a brackish lagoon where you can find a variety of lagoon birds. Look out for pintail ducks, sandpipers, stilts, sanderlings and perhaps even flamingos if you are lucky. Following the trail further inland for beautiful views of the bay and the western islands, you reach a resting area for iguanas, this important area is constantly monitored by the Charles Darwin Research Station. Go bird watching in this arid-zone to spot Galapagos Mocking birds, Galapagos flycatchers, Darwin's Finches and yellow warblers.
Today you visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic hub of the archipelago and is also home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station’s visitor centre and museum are essential stops for anyone interested in the archipelago’s natural and human history and keen to learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos. It also offers visitors their best chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises. This was where ‘Lonesome George’, the last of his sub-species lived until he sadly died in 2012. You will see many newborn and young giant turtles which are part of the breeding program to reintroduce them into their natural habitat. Afterwards you take a bus to the Santa Cruz highlands, here the lush humidity seems worlds away from the island’s arid coastal regions. In the interior of Santa Cruz you discover inactive volcanic cones, the rich soil here is home to many crops including miconia bushes and scalesia, a species that has been called ‘the Darwin’s finches of the plant world’. You visit the largest lava tunnels in the Galapagos and observe great local bird life, including the vermilion flycatcher, Galápagos rail, Galapagos dove and paint-billed cake. The highlands are also the natural habitat of the Galapagos tortoise and there's a good chance you may see them here. (BLD)
Today you will land on the largest island in the Galapagos, Isabela. Isabela is actually one of the world's youngest geological areas having been formed less than one million years ago. The morning is spent at Punta Moreno on the south west coast of the island. Here you discover beautiful blue lagoons dotted with flamgoes, backed by rocky terrain and incredible lava formations all under the watch of three active volcanoes. More exploration this afternoon in Elizabeth Bay, here there is an abundance of life above and below water. Sheltered passages and coves fringed with mangrove forests are home to rays, turtles, and sea lions. Follow trails through sharp lava terrain and discover penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs. This Bay is the best place in the islands to see long winged shearwaters as they fly above your head.
Fernandian Island is the youngest of the all the islands and has a stark volcanic landscape. Punta Espinosa on the north east tip is a narrow ledge of lava and sand extending from the base of La Cumbre Volcano. Walking along the lava among lava cactus you can encounter marine iguanas and flightless cormorants drying their atrophied wings. On the main island of Isabella explore Bahia Urbina, located at the foot of teh Alcedo and Darwin Volcanos, this is a great place to discover giant tortoises and colourful Land Iguanas.
Explore great sites on and around Santiago today. At Puerto Egas on St James Bay you will discover a black sand beach and Sugar Loaf Volcano with deposits of volcanic tuff. On the beach you will encounter hundreds of marine iguanas, sea lions and fur seals. Tidal pools formed by ancient lava flow now house sponges, snails, barnacles, hermit crabs and fish. Beautiful Espumilla Beach on the north coast of St James Bay is an important nesting site for sea turtles. Follow a trail through fine lava formations and mangroves to a lake where you can see falmingos, pintail ducks and stilts. Turtles often nest in the sand under the mangrove trees. The final site of today is Caleta Bucanero (Bucaneer Cove) a natural monument of rocks caused by sea erosion, here you will hear of local legends and pirates who used to careen their ships here. Darwin camped here for a few days whilst making his study of the islands.
Daphne to Quito
Go bird spotting today on Daphne Island, masked boobies, finches and frigate birds with their striking red neck pouches.
You then cruise back to Baltra, where you say goodbye to the amazing Galapagos Islands and take your return flight to Quito. As you will be leaving the boat today, Please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline you recommend each passenger consider US$10 per day for the crew and US$6 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on this last day of your journey. On arrival in Quito you are met and transferred to your hotel for you last night. Hotel – 1 night (B)
Tour ends today. Transfer to airport and make your overnight flight home. (B)